My Korean Gastronomic Journal – Seoul

What do humans live for? WE LIVE TO EATTTT!!!!

Read on, watch on and salivate 😌

SEOUL (2017)

MY TOP PICK 

*Drum roll*

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It’s the KOREAN BEEF!!!!!! For non-beef eaters, I’m sorry but please just scroll pass this first section. NO DOUBT, THIS WAS DEFINITELY BEST MEAL THAT I HAD IN KOREA! And this definitely pass off as the best beef that I have ever had. Gosh, these meat literally melts in one’s mouth. You can barely feel the muscle fibre! All it took were a few grains of salt to bring out the flavour of the beef! That being said, the beef was still extremely succulent even without any flavouring/marination. AHHHH, bring me those beef right NOW!

For those who are unfamiliar with Korean Beef, these beef are actually graded by numbers with Grade 1 being the best grade. Beyond Grade 1, additional ‘+’s are assigned to further classify the beef’s quality. Of course, the more ‘+’ that you see, the most expensive the beef would be. The plate above costed approximately SGD180 (150k won) for 1kg of beef. It might be more expensive than your average meal in Korea but it’s definitely worth a try!

This is the stall where I had my meal! According to the seller, the beef that I had was Grade 1+++ which can only be found from 1% of the Korean Cow.

For those keen on savouring quality beef at reasonable price, you definitely need to make a trip to Majang Meat Market . 

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Next down the list, we have steamed ribs with soy sauce from 강남면옥 Gangnam Myeonok. This was a restaurant that we had chanced upon when we were wandering along Insadong for food.

Of the meals that I had, this was definitely a kid-friendly meal (in terms of spiciness). In Korea, the serving size also never disappoints. A whole pot of beef ribs, that were marinated to perfection, was definitely a steal for its price.

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Apologies for the lack of actual photos as I was mad hungry that day. 

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For the viewers of The Return of Superman, this meal is even Seo On and Seo Jun approved!!

Finally, steering away from beef, this was one meal that had my parents constantly requesting for more Tang Su Yuk (meat on the right). While the Jajangmyeon was not exceptionally great, it was nevertheless decent. The Tang Su Yuk, on the other hand, was fried to a perfect crisp with generous amount of sauce coating each cube of meat to give it the flavour.

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However, this restaurant maybe a little out of the way for most travellers as it is located on the outside of Seoul City in Incheon aka Seoul’s Chinatown.

 

And of course, I also made a trip to Ewha to enjoy the Jjimdak that I had yearned for since my visit last year (2016). However, this meal did not earn much of my parent’s liking as they commented that they are “sick” of the rich flavours when we were half way through the meal.

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When you are in Korea, bingsu is definitely that ONE thing that you shouldn’t miss! Again, this is a repeat visit to Sulbing from last year. BE WARNED: Do not expect bingsu to be dirt cheap just because you are eating it in its home country. This melon with strawberry (within the ice) costed about 15000won if my memory did not fail me. But would I pay for it again? Definitely a big yes!! The quality of food definitely fits its price tag.

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That’s all for Seoul! Bye ~

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Summer Trip to Korea… AGAIN?!

Hi!!!!

It has been 2/3 weeks since I’m back from my 2 weeks trip to Korea! Gosh, I can’t believe that I had really go on a SUMMER trip  after swearing (last year) that I would never go for a holiday during summer season.

How should I pen down my trip? How how how? I don’t know how so I shall anyhowly do it 😌

Dates: 4th July – 17th July 2017

  • Busan: 4th – 7th July
  • Seoul: 8th – 9th July
  • Jeju:  10th – 12th July
  • Seoul: 13th – 17th July

PRE-TRIP PLANNING

Flight

This trip is definitely not the most budget-friendly trip. For flight, we had chosen SIA which costed us approximately SGD800 per pax. While it is not the cheapest option available, the price is still reasonable considering the fact that food and 30kg check-in luggage are included. Promotions by SIA are actually quite frequently offered!

Accommodation

AIRBNB!!!! Thank you very much to the founder of AIRBNB! This trip, we have relied largely on Airbnb for ONE reason – WASHING MACHINE. Having an easy access to washing machine had really saved us (especially my mum) much hassle! For a 2-weeks trip, we could cut down the amount of clothes to bring from 14 sets to just 4/5 sets. Anddddd that leaves us with much more luggage room for our HAULS! YES, killing a bird with two stones. However, we did spent a night at a hotel at Jeju.

For your reference, here are the links to the place that we had stayed in.

Transport (KTX, Jeju Flight, Rental Car)

Just like most travellers, I took KTX to and fro Busan/Seoul and a flight to get between Seoul and Jeju.

Prior to departing, I made a reservation on the Korail website. However, this reservation does not guarantee you a seat on any of the trains (I think?) You will still find yourself “booking”/”exchanging” for the real ticket at the KTX train stations.

What I did

  1. Booked on Korail website (Flexible 2 Pass)
  2. Exchanged for Flexible 2 Pass at Incheon Airport (At the counter right after you walk through the corridor that connects the arrival hall of Incheon Airport and Airport Railway) 
  3. Picked the 2 days at point of exchange (NOTE: Once you have chosen your dates, there will be no room for more changes!) 
  4. Received the Flexible 2 Pass and tickets for Seoul -> Busan
  5. Exchanged for Busan -> Seoul tickets at the Busan KTX station

There are various types of passes available to cater to different traveller’s demands. So do think throughly and plan your trip prior to purchasing your KTX tickets as they are definitely not CHEAP.

As for my flight from Seoul to Jeju, I had flown with Asiana Airlines. Flight ticket was approximately SGD120 inclusive of 23kg check-in luggage. Nothing much to talk about but do note that most flights connecting Seoul to Jeju flies from Gimpo Airport – DOMESTIC terminal. If you are taking a taxi (like we did), please let the driver know beforehand. You can simply tell them Jeju and they will know where to drop you 🙂

Lastly, my family also rented a Kia K3 with Lotte Rent-a-Car to get around Jeju. Despite being a compact car, the K3 did a great job in ferrying my family (4adults) plus 2 medium and 2 cabin sized luggage with comfort. Like the KTX tickets, I had first made a reservation for my chosen car via their website while payment was subsequently completed with credit card at their counter.

Insurance

To have an ease of mind, we had also purchased travel insurance. Fortunately (or unfortunately?), we did not have any chance of using the insurance.

Others – Money/Card and Wifi

This trip, I had chanced upon an extremely ingenious website – CashChanger! This website collates the various currency exchange rates across various money exchanger and it is really QUITE accurate! MEGA THUMBS UP!!! It saves time which means you save money hahaha! Just check the rate online and head down to the exchanger that offers you the best rate.

Do also remember to activate your bank card prior to departing. This can be easily done via ibanking. NOTE: Purchase of KTX tickets can only be done through credit cards (and some debit card) FYI, my POSB Passion Debit card worked. 

As modern beings, my family and I are definitely slaves to staying connected and online. Of course, more importantly, access to the internet helped us greatly in navigating Korea!

As my family and I would be staying together throughout the trip, the most economical option (imo) would be to rent a wifi egg. Again, being kiasu, I placed a reservation for a wifi egg with Changiwifi.

Alright! That’s all for the pre-trip talk haha! Apologies for the wordy post without ANY pictures 😅

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[JAPAN ’16] OKINAWA I

Hi friends!

THIS IS GONNA BE A REAL BACKDATED POST hahaha! So last year, I visited

☀︎ OKINAWA ☀︎

Okinawa is Japan’s southern-most prefecture that is made up of a couple of bigger islands and dozens of smaller islands. In face, it’s so far-off to the south that Okinawa is actually closer to Taiwan than its own capital, Tokyo! Given its geographical location, it is no surprise that Okinawa receives a huge flock of visitors from Taiwan especially during SUMMER!!!

Here’s the view from the flight to OKINAWA ♥︎ Mind youuuu, this photo was NOT editedddddd!!

The sky, the sea, the everythingggg, I MISS YOU OKINAWAAA ☀︎

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How did I get there? 

I flew from Seoul, Incheon International Airport, via JinAir to Naha City, Naha Airport. Man, the air ticket was really expensive for that short haul ride. If my memory did not fail me, it was approximately SGD350 (ONE-WAY) inclusive of taxes and 15kg check-in luggage. On flight, a goodie bag was given out which contained an nigiri and a bun.

Some of the other airlines that flew between Seoul and Okinawa were FlyPeach and VanillaAir. FlyPeach had relatively cheaper tickets but limited flight timings. As for VanillaAir, I seriously can’t recall anything about it……. hahaha. If it matters, all of the above airlines are low-cost carriers aka budget airlines. JinAir is a Korean airline while the other two are Japanese airlines.

 Naha Airport 

Upon landing at Naha Airport, we were quickly jostled to the immigration counters along with packs of visitors mainly from other parts of Japan and Taiwan. Naha Airport was surprisingly simple but did contained all that a visitor would need:

  1. A convenience store (I think it was Lawson?)
  2. A SIM card vending machine (but there was only a provider which I had forgotten)
  3. Wifi egg and sim card rental booth
  4. Car rental booth
  5. Information counter

Transport Around the Island

Unlike other parts of Japan, Okinawa does not have an extensive public transport network. Hence, it is best for one to SELF-DRIVE. If you had been to Jeju, then yeah it’s pretty similar. FYI: It’s right-hand drive

The car rental company that I had seek was OTS International. At Naha Airport arrival hall, just look out for the friendly OTS personnel who will guide you to their shuttle bus and boom boom you will be shuttled off to their car rental site. DOOOOO remember to bring along your International Driving Permit else they might not issue a car to you. 

During my visit, there were two queues which differentiated visitors based on their home countries’ traffic direction. For instance, we were ushered to a separate queue from the korean visitors. Visitors from countries with opposite traffic direction might experience a longer administrative procedure as the OTS personnel would take time to advice them on how to adjust to opposite traffic direction etc etc……..

Ohhhh also at their site, they do also sell tickets to some tourist sites such as the Churaumi Aquarium.

Ohhhhh prior to the trip, I had read from several blogs that the roads in Okinawa are relatively quiet with minimal congestion. But I beg to DIFFER!!!! Be prepared to face congestion especially within Naha city and along the highways at peak hours. As mentioned, the most convenient way to get around the island is CAR! Therefore, don’t be surprise to see car HERE, THERE and EVERYWHERE!

Accommodation

Airbnb! During this trip, we had only stayed on the main Island of Okinawa i.e the biggest piece of land that you can find when you google Okinawa map. For ease of travelling, we spent 2 nights in Naha city and the remaining night in Nago City. For most airbnb houses, a free parking space is almost guaranteed so there ain’t much to worry about self-driving.

At Naha City, we rented a private room which was nothing exceptional but the room was pleasant with a friendly Obasan and a cute little dog. Location was also absolutely great being just minutes of walk from Kusaidori Street, International Street, and that meant FOOOD and SHOPPING at close proximity!!! Will share more of my experience at Kusaidori Street in probablyyyyyy the next post heh.

Fyi: It is not easy nor cheap to find parking space along Kusaidori street.

At Nago City, we rented a VILLLAAA! WOOHOOOO, it was so cuteeeeee!!!

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Isn’t it CUTEEEE?!?!?!?!?

As mentioned, this was found from airbnb too. Location wise… it was kinda ulu but it was all worth it! When the night sky falls, the sky was plastered with stars ★ LOTSA OF STARS!!!!! It was an absolutely lovely sightttt awwwwww heh. Despite being situated amidst the ulu forest, there were minimal bugs and my biggest fear of all – MOSQUITOES. So all in all, I give this place MANY MANY STARS heh as many as the number of stars in the sky hahaha

Again, this place is absolutely inaccessible without a car. SO, RENT A CAR!

Okay, that’s all for now guys! Night nights 🙂

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Mother’s Day

It’s Mother’s Day today. Have you done anything for your mom?

For some, they criticise that such occasion (akin to Valentine’s Day) is absolutely unnecessary. If you are a filial child, then each living day would be Mother’s Day to your mom. If you are a loving other half, then each living day would be Valentine’s Day to your special half.

Yes, I absolutely agree with the above statement. BUT that does not translate to discounting your mom on a special day. Just like drugs, regularly dosage of any drugs (over a long time) would eventually nullify its effects. You may tell your mom that you love her everyday, but eventually this “love” would more or less lose its taste. If you could add an extra punch on a special day and DO something for your mom, then why not? Tbh, it’s not that hard. From a dinner, to a small bouquet or simply a heartfelt handwritten card is more than enough. As long as you TRY to make the day a little different, she can feel it and she would appreciate it. Yes yes, I could see that some would be rolling their eyes at the “superficial” and “materialistic” thought of mine but uh… that’s what I feel about it. At times, some impracticality ain’t much of a sin.

Rather than SAYING just Thank You, why not let your actions prove what you mean?

APPRECIATION

does not involve only a word of “thanks”.

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Today, I handed her a bouquet of flowers – a gift from my brother who is studying overseas. I then captured the moments of her gentling caressing the soft petals of the flowers. “It must be expensive, but it’s beautiful”. “This pink flower is so beautiful…”  etc etc. Her happy voice was so soothing to my ears and calmed my nervous heart. ps: I was so prepared for her to blast out “WHAT A WASTE OF MONEY!!!!” Then, the happy voice stopped and I heard sobs. I looked up from my phone and was completely thrown off guard by her tears. Tears flowed against her will as she sniffed and fought to wipe off those tears with the back of her hand. Watching tears rolling down her cheeks, my nose tingled and my heart ached. In between her sobs, she muttered: “谢谢你们”.  There was no need for thanks because she well deserves these reciprocating love from her two children.

 

I love you mummy

 

2017 – Promises to myself

Yet another year has crept by. Like any other years, this year has also been a crazy rollercoaster ride for her. It did not start off well, but it has definitely ended on a relatively good note.

Like every other year, 2017 will be a year jam-packed with challenges. It will definitely be hard, but I will conquer it and make it a year full of positive energy.

HOW? HOW? HOW? As a reminder to myself:

  1. Never give up on first try
  2. Listen to others
  3. Always question to learn more
  4. Work hard so as to be deserving
  5. Be a positive force to others
  6. Spend more time with parents
  7. Persevere
  8. Be brave
  9. Never be depress for more than three days
  10. Please. Thank you. Sorry

This is an incoherent post. Wanted to churn out this post last week but simply could not put my thoughts into words. When I look back on the year, I feel a gush of gratitude with a tinge of confusion and sadness. I guessing writing is really not my thing. Okay, gonna end it here. It’s a weird conclusion but it’s okay since the writer is weird anyway.

Have a great year ahead!

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Apple Oneroom Goshiwon

Hello Chinguuus!

Sorry for late post haha! I have finally decided to get down to complete this post after receiving an inquiry email on Apple Oneroom Goshiwon.

What is goshiwon?

In layman (or non-korean) term, a goshiwon is a private dormitory. A couple of differences, between local (SG) hall and goshiwon, are that most goshiwon rooms are often individually packed with private toilet, TV and air-conditioning within that tiny tiny tiny room. Say no more to the days when you have to queue up for shower, or coax yourself to sleep in hot, sweaty nights! Not forgetting, Also, goshiwons also come with a pantry that provides free bread, eggs, bread, etc.

How did I find Apple Oneroom Goshiwon?

I googled! While finding a suitable place to stay in for my Hanyang Summer, I chanced upon this brand new term “Goshiwon” and learnt a little more about it. Further googling, brought me to Goshipages, a page which functions like airbnb albeit in a much simplified template. Plugging “Hanyang University” into the search engine brings me to a page that lists the available goshiwon near the vicinity. Apple Oneroom was the second goshiwon from the list much thanks to its prime location.

How did I book Apple Oneroom Goshiwon?

I contacted them through the goshipages website. Thereafter, I was required to transfer a deposit of 100 000won/room via ibanking. If you are intending to stay with your friends, do consider making the transfer together to avoid incurring multiple transaction fee.

My experience with Apple Oneroom Goshiwon

Haha, this is probably the section that really matters to most! If I were to rate it, I would give the overall experience a 3 out of 5. Why? Read on to find out.

Location:

Imo, the goshiwon is primely located near Hanyang University – Seoul Campus. There is two ways of getting to the campus which I named them the front and the back of the school. The front involves conquering the insanely STEEP hill that leads one first to the medical school/hospital before the cyber school and so on and so forth. On the other hand, the back involves a much flatter path to the school but can be a little quieter as it is further from the main street. Either path would take you approximately 15 minutes to the get to campus by foot. For me, decision to which path to take depended largely on which building I was heading to. Eg: if you are heading to business school which is situated relatively near the centre of the campus, the back will be better choice.

An additional point to make is that Apple Oneroom is safely situated along a two-way road and will not require one to make turns in dark alley to get to it.

Apple Oneroom Goshiwon building/room:

Apple Oneroom Goshiwon is situated within the residential area. It is approximately 3-storeys high with no lift. Do not expect anything looking luxurious because it is anything but luxurious, okay that’s my personal comment. But seriously, don’t get your hopes too high about the place because, AGAIN MY PERSONAL OPINION, the pictures offered online ain’t providing the most accurate depiction of the goshiwon. The room that I had stayed in appeared smaller than the pictures shown online. The hallway and pantry definitely did not appear the same. Nevertheless, the room did come with TV, toilet and air-conditioning as promised. Other facilities such as washing machine and daily breakfast were provided as per stated on the site. Yet another complain of mine, the shower head was really cranky and it appeared that this problem was common amongst other rooms. To make up for the cranky shower head, ehmmmm, I can only say that the aircon did performed its task and helped me sleep comfortably through the hot summer nights. Oh, and the in-room personal fridge was a plus too 🙂

Other points to note  would that no dryer was available and that the washing machine seemed to be always in-use. In the end, I hand-washed my clothes and dried them on the clothing racks available. Also, no toilet paper was provided. Bedsheets can be requested from the landlady but I don’t think she has enough for all. I brought my own bedsheets and pillow. For those who do not want to bring your own pillow, you can get one at the nearby daiso for less than 10 000won. Otherwise, you can also do some shopping for essentials at eMart at Wangsimni station.

the unpleasant check-in story

When we had arrived at the goshiwon, the manager/landlord/landlady was not in despite the fact that he had previously asked for the time of check-in. Fortunately, I had already gotten my korean sim card and hence was able to contact him via his number. He picked up and told us that he will be there swiftly to receive us. However, he did not show up in the end but an ahjumma took over the task of helping us check-in instead. I supposed  she is the landlady as she stays in the first room from the entrance of the building. She could not speak english and neither could I speak much korean. However, thanks to korean dramas and shows, I do understand some BASIC korean.  With broken english and korean, we tried to communicate but it was really difficult. First of all, this landlady seemed to have no idea of who she will be receiving and what room had the person booked. As the 450 000won rooms had ran out, I had no choice but to book the 550 000won rooms via goshipages. However, at the point of check-in, I was shocked to hear from the land lady that she was out of 550 000won rooms and only had 3 rooms that costed 600 000won each. What on earthhhh. On goshipages, it clearly reflected ONLY two types of rooms with two prices – 450 000won and 550 000won. I had also clearly asked the manager if there would be any additional charges on top of the stated rental fee and he said NO.  And now, magically,  a room that costed 600 000won APPEARED. Wow. However, at that point in time, I was more worried than angry. Reluctantly, I paid 600 000won for the room. Upon agreeing the new rental fee, the ahjumma then told us that she will need to collect an extra 30 000won as deposit for the key which is refundable upon check-out. Okay okay, this sounds reasonable. All-in-all, I paid 530 000won (+100 000won deposit via ibanking) to the landlady upon check-in. On hindsight, I could have been more clear-headed and handled the situation better but… anxiety got the better of me. 

If given a chance, would I still stay in Apple Goshiwon? My answer is yes. Its location is great with reasonable amenities for the price paid albeit the unpleasant sudden inflation (story above). Ahjumma was really friendly and put in much effort to talk to us though I barely understood what she was trying to convey haha.

That’s all that I have to say. All of the above are based on my personal experience so please do take it with a pinch of salt.

Till then ~

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An Escapade to Johor Bahru

Travelling to Malaysia without parents – Checked ✔️

For some, this might seem like no biggie but it is indeed a real deal for me. Okay, it does sound like a joke given that I was away in Korea for a month before scrambling my way through Japan for another 10 days.

Cut the crap, let’s get to the real topic of the dayyyy – Cafe hopping in JB!

How to cross the causeway?

Getting to the checkpoint:

  1. Catch a bus from Woodlands interchange (856, 903, 911, 912, 913) to get to Woodlands Checkpoint. Comparatively, some buses do take a longer route. For detailed information on the bus routes, please kindly GOOGLE. I believe you will be able to reap something off from the internet 🙂 For me, I am less bothered by the bus route and will instead hop onto whichever bus service that comes first.
  2. Take the private buses such as Causeway buses from Queensway/Kranji/Newton or Johor Bahru Express from Queensway terminal. Cost of bus fare to be paid in cash and a physical ticket will be issued. Please KEEP the ticket.  (FYI: Ticket cost to be paid in SGD for the to-trip and RM for the fro-trip)
  3. Cab/Car

After clearing the Singapore customs:

If you had taken the private buses, head over and join the respective queues. Flash your bus ticket that you had paid and you would not be required to pay any additional fare. For the rest, you can choose to take either the public buses (950, 160, 170) or private buses. Public buses can be paid using ezlink while private buses would require cash. According to my experience, amongst the public bus services , 170 has the highest frequency, followed by 160 then 950. 

If the queue for the buses is crazy, you might want to consider walking across the causeway. Yes, this may sound insane but the queues for buses can be real CRAZYYY as well. You definitely wouldn’t want to experience it but there were several occasions when the bus bay was COMPLETELY FILLED with humans. HOWEVER, I am not entirely sure if walking across the causeway is legal. As far as I know, Malaysia does not welcome the act of walking across the causeway. Nevertheless, in times of crazy crowd, many still opt across the causeway by foot.

Be warn that there pedestrian path ends somewhere along the causeway and you would be walking along the road to reach the Malaysia checkpoint.

After clearing the Malaysia customs:

Simply follow the route and it will lead you to Citysquare and Komtar JBCC shopping mall. Along the way, there is also a mini bus bay that has a shuttle bus which can bring you to KSL mall at a small fee.

Getting to the cafes

Here’s my simple guide for your reference:

  1. Get into Citysquare shopping mall (the one on your left hand side after you completely exit from the customs) and head to level 1.
  2. Look for Macdonalds, then walk towards the photo printing shop that is in close proximity to Macdonalds.
  3. Exit from the mall. The exit should be situated between UOB and Maybank.
  4. Head straight from the exit while looking out for a Hindu temple on the right side of the road.
  5. Cross the road once you see the Hindu temple
  6. Again, head straight in the direction against the position of Citysquare until you see a big red overarching pillar??

AND you are on your own! The cafes that have frequently been mentioned on various food sites and blogs are found scattered around that district.

Citysquare Shopping Mall

After cafe-hopping, we headed back to the mall for a movie, light shopping and took neoprene at the arcade. I know i knowww that neoprene is no longer in trend but for keepsake and it’s relatively cheap (RM13) then why not?

WARNING: Watch your stuff and never be complacent. Do not leave your belongings within the photo booth while you decorate your photo even though your items may literally be a few footsteps away. Regardless, carry your items with you and keep them within sight. 

As mentioned, we caught a movie at the mall too! I think our tickets were RM13 bucks each. As we had taken seats that were nearer to the screen, it wasn’t the most comfortable movie experience given that the seats were not optimally angled. Just a reminder, outside food is strictly not allowed within the theatre. Do not be surprise if you are asked to open your bag for a brief check and requested to leave your food in a locker, outside the theatre.

Yup, that’s all for nowwww 🙂 Byeeeee ~

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Darkness.

She fear darkness. She fear darkness for it robs her of her vision. She fear darkness for it casts uncertainty. She fear darkness for it engulfs her.

The night sky has again fallen, and darkness has set in the city. Here she is in her room with lights turned on but her heart is nothing but darkness. She doesn’t see the light at the end of the path. But again, is she on the path? Even if she is, is she on the right path? Where is she? And most importantly, who is she?

She thought she had gotten better. She thought that void in the heart had been filled. I thought she was happy. She supposed she was genuinely happy but that state of joy was utmostly fragile. It took months for the heart to gain strength but yet only a couple of days to crumble, yet again.

What happens during life after death? When the pair of eyes that was once filled with hope closes, would one experience darkness? Or would one finally be alleviated from all her/his pain?

The search for answer continues. The journey to make peace with oneself continues.

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ps: In the summer of 2016, I had visited Mapo Bridge in Seoul, aka Suicide bridge. I had updated a gallery of my visit with a short blogpost of thoughts. Hope over to click if you would like to read/see. 

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HANYANG Summer School ’16 GUIDE [HISS]

ANNYEONG chingus 😘

During the summer of 2016, I embarked on a short journey of a lifetime to the land of morning calm, South Korea, to attend Hanyang International Summer School.

Why HISS? 

HISS offers a wide selection of modules from arts to science and even Taekwondo classes. Compared to its counterparts, the school fee of HISS is definitely much more affordable while allowing students to take up to a maximum of 3 modules. For NUS engineering students, HISS definitely tops the list of summer schools as it allows one to map two compulsory modules EG2401 and HR2002.

When and How to Apply?

Application (for 2016) with HISS began somewhere near the start of semester 2. Do follow their FACEBOOK page to receive the most updated information.

For students of NUS, rumour has it that there is a quota of 200 students that HISS is welcoming. Do not belittle the quota! Slots were filled up quick according to my observation. To apply, simply head over to the official HISS site. Upon application, you would have to select your choice of accommodation (elaborated in the next episode). Upon submitting the application form, you would need to wait for approximately a few days to a week before the SAME application form will reflect if your application was successful. If my memory did not fail me, successful application was reflected by an updated form with a bank account/student number. To CONFIRM your attendance for the summer school, you would need to transfer the stated amount to the indicated bank account. Note: This payment will include  the cost your choice of accommodation unless you have chosen self-source accommodation. 

All of the above mentioned instructions would be made available of on the HISS site.

After your successful application with HISS, you would then need to “report” back to your own department with the necessary documents e.g module mapping. Shall not elaborate on this as I think one would be able to look up the necessary information on official NUS/department website.

Accommodation

There are several selections available. Here are some factors that may help you in decision-making:

  1. Comfort: single vs double
  2. Location: Walk vs Subway
  3. Cost

**Do note that the description for each accommodation by HISS may not be true to its words

Hanyang offers both single and double occupancy accommodation. Needless to say, the cost of single occupancy is definitely much higher than double occupancy. But for light-sleepers, the extra cost would worth every penny for a month of good sleep.

On-campus vs Off-campus

As HISS is expanding each year, the number of on-campus room is insufficient to meet the demands of international students which explains for the availability of off-campus dorms. The main difference that sets apart on-campus and off-campus dorm is the presence of curfew (1am – 5am). However, according to my friends, the curfew was not imposed on them during their stay.

As suggested by its name, on-campus accommodations are located within the compounds of the campus. Hence, one would be able to save on travelling costs and time. On the other hand, depending on your luck, one’s off-campus accommodation (eg URSeoul) may require you to reach the school via subway. I’m not sure if you will be able to state your preferred off-campus dorms tho. FYI, the base fare for each subway ride is 1250won (S$1.50). While being located away from HISS may make URSeoul less desirable, it remains a dream dorm given that it is really quite ATAS (ps: it has rain shower head and bidet). 

Self-sourced Accommodation

As I had wanted a single room BUT at a lower cost, I opted for self-sourced accommodation.

How did I do it? GOOGLE!!! As always, google “always” offers the best solution. Upon much googling, I came upon “goshiwon”. Goshiwon refers to a form of housing that is simple, small and cheap. For better visualisation, goshiwon is simply  like a typical school dormitory but commonly packed with an attached toilet  within its small area. Quite often, each goshiwon room also comes with a mini fridge and a TV!! YES, all the mentioned amenities for your individual use for approximately the price of 300 000won-550 000won/month!  Sounds like a great deal huh? Yes, it is indeed a good deal but one should not get their hopes up about the room because uhm… photos of some goshiwons do lie a little…  For starters, one can visit Goshistory  to have a better idea of what’s a goshiwon like. During my visit, I had stayed at Apple Oneroom Goshiwon. I will elaborate on my experience with Apple Oneroom Goshiwon in a separate post.

Back to the topic of goshiwon, a good number of goshiwons would require a deposit of approximately 100 000won/per room. After making the payment for your Hanyang school fees, I believe you would have realised the hefty service charge for overseas bank transfer. So so, if you decide to book a goshiwon along with your friends, do liaise with one another to transfer all the deposits together to avoid incurring multiple service charge.

FYI: For HISS 2016, the single room-ers were allocated to a place called Unidence which is actually a goshiwon. I did not personally visit the place but my friend said the place was quite nice 🙂 

That’s all for now! Lemme end of the blogpost with one of the nicest building in Hanyang School – School of Business.

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For more photos of Hanyang, stay tuned to my gallery 🙂

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[TOKYO ’16] Date with the Hedgehogs

Planning a trip to Tokyo? Then, you must not miss out on a date with the hedgehogs!

Worried that this prickly little creature might hurt you? Not convinced that they are REALLY REALLY UNBELIEVABLY CUTE? Look below.

Catch more photos over here

Still NOT convinced? Watch it punchhhhhhhhhh!!! 

The Harry’s cafe, also known as, Harinezumi cafe, is a charming little cafe located right below its sister pet cafe, Ms Bunny Cafe. If you have difficulty locating Harry’s cafe on your google maps, perhaps you could instead located Ms Bunny Cafe. Being established a tad longer, there are definitely much more blog posts that offer detailed directions to reach Ms Bunny Cafe. But please do not get me wrong, these cafes are definitely easy to get by via Tokyo’s well-mapped, extensive subway lines (1 min walk from Roppongi Station) albeit it could be a tiny search for the actual location along the shophouses. If my memory did not fail me, it is one of the shophouses a lane from the main shopping street.

The cafe begins at 12pm daily and I would strongly suggest for you to be there EARLY. Speaking from my sole experience, a long queue had formed by the time the cafe opens. Reservation is available which I will elaborate in the next paragraph. As I had visited during the HOT summer in August, the queue was formed under the scorching sun. You definitely wouldn’t want to be waiting under the sun! However, to make the wait more bearable, the staffs of Harry’s cafe had provided umbrellas for their customers to protect against the unforgiving UV rays. Japan and its perfect hospitality culture had impressed me once again for the umpteenth time!!

When you enter the cafe, you would be guided to a seat then requested to make your payment for the visit. I had visited on a weekday, the cost of visit was 1000yen/30minutes which was approximately S$12. For reservation, you would have a priority queue but a minimum visit of 1hour is required i.e min at 2000yen/S$24. Reservation can be made through their official website. ALSO, be conscious of your own time as the staff may not inform you when your time is up. Overtime charges will be calculated according to the relevant intervals.

Upon making your payment, you will be guided by their staff to pick a hedgehog of your choice. How did I pick? Colour! For some unknown reason, I had a particularly liking for brown hedgehogs. These hedgehogs are housed in tanks, similar to hamsters, before they are “picked”.

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After you have picked your hedgehog, the staff would bring it over to your seat and place it in a card box that is unique for each customer. Pet it, or sayang it, gently. If you are not confident of doing it the right way, there are instructions pasted against the wall right before you. Else, do not be afraid to approach the friendly staff who are relatively well-versed in english!

If you would like a change of hedgehog, you may approach the staff as well. All is well if you treat these little cuties with gentle care! The staffs present are well-aware of the personalities of each hedgehog to recommend you or advise against any hedgehog. During my visit, I had overheard a staff advising against one particular hedgehog which bites. So, listen and don’t gei kiang (i.e do not be a smart alec).

Be warned that time spent with the little cuties do fly past really quickly. As a matter of hygiene, do clean your hands with the provided antiseptic before you leave.

And that’s all that I have to share from my date with the hedgehog! Feel free to drop me an email at breathetolivee@gmail.com if you have any queries, I would love to answer your queries to the best of my knowledge.

Have a great day ~

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A Tiny Traveller

That year, she turned 21.

“The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence. ”    – Denis Waitley

As the youngest one in the household, she was always told that she could not. Born in a typical Singaporean family, she was often warned 坏人会抓你 i.e you will be kidnapped by villains. Being a rather petite girl, she was always teased that she would be blown away, literally, in the event of strong gusts of wind.

But that year, she turned 21. She was blessed with the opportunity to taste freedom and see the bigger world.

That year, she made memories that still warms her up from the inside and forged friendships of a lifetime.

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